Management

April 1996

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY GUIDE

Management

Involvement by general managers in information technology issues is lacking.

A large knowledge gap exists between general managers and technology managers in government, according to a new study conducted by the Strategic Computing and Telecommunications Program at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. That knowledge gap has resulted in ineffective leadership in federal information technology programs, the study says.

"New information technology applications entail organizational changes that cannot be implemented by technical experts alone, but instead require strong partnerships between IT managers and general managers," says Jerry Mechling, director of the Kennedy School program. "To create partnerships needed for effective IT leadership, this knowledge gap needs to be substantially reduced by opening communications and building relationships."

The eight-year research project, which was done in collaboration with IBM's Institute for Electronic Government, involved interviewing 418 executives in federal, state and local governments throughout the United States and Canada. Answers to the study's 150 questions revealed that general managers are perceived-even by themselves-as having inadequate knowledge of information technology issues. IT managers were perceived as having inadequate knowledge of strategic and operational issues.

"As information technology grows hugely more cost effective, it is used not only for incremental changes such as automating pre-existing work flows-payroll, finance, inventory management-but for quantum changes such as inventing new work flows," says Mechling. "Difficult and important applications, such as Internet services, require general managers to be more involved in IT leadership."

The study found that while information technology projects with the least confusion and conflict can be implemented via standard project management techniques, others require special efforts to clarify objectives or negotiate with opponents. But today's IT leadership, the study concluded, too often focuses on technical and economic feasibility-ignoring the soft issues of behavioral feasibility.

"Technology leaders need to invest in the right amount of IT-related learning," says Tom Fletcher, associate director of the Kennedy School's Strategic Computing and Telecommunications Program. "In rapidly changing environments, front-line and senior managers need to become aggressively involved in educating individuals and teams, in benchmarking against world-class IT performers, and in experimenting with networked work flows and organizations."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.